Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Personal and private

What’s in a word?

The world, apparently, if the word is "personal."

This week’s stupid media debate: Is it liberal media bias if the press refers to George Bush’s Social Security plan as promoting "private accounts?" It is according to GOP pollster Frank Luntz, who showed up on the Al Franken radio program Tuesday to argue that the media must use the terms the president chooses for describing his program. To use alternate descriptive words, Luntz said, would be biased.

This is a big deal because the GOP has run polls that show people are more inclined to support a "personal account" than they are a "private account." Never mind that Bush himself used the term "private account" up until about two months ago, when the poll data came in – the president uses "personal account" now, and the media better get in step – or else.

Hey, here’s a good reason why the media ought to refer to these things as "private accounts" from here on out: Nobody respects a wimp. If the press ever wants to be taken seriously again, it’s going to have to start pushing back when powerful forces on either side of the aisle start pushing us around.

Timothy Karr of covers this nicely in his blog.

Hey, let’s try an experiment. Check to see if your local paper praises the pending Alberto Gonzales confirmation. Then challenge them with this: today's Washington Post editorial connecting the dots between what Gonzales said about torture in his public hearings (very little) and what he said about it in the written answers he provided to the committee after slinking out with his tail between his legs.

The Bush Administration condones torture. That’s an objective fact, and administration denials don’t change a thing. The debate ought to be about whether torture is good policy, not about whether the White House supports it. It does. It just doesn’t like to admit that it does.

So why aren’t we having that conversation?

Sy Hersh is an American hero. Read this monologue (it’s supposed to be an interview, but Amy Goodman never gets a word in edgewise) on the Gonzo debacle. Hersh calls the neo-cons a "cult."